colored people




Segregated Peace: an essay on Colored People

Integration was a main theme or topic in this memoir. It played an important role
in the time when Gates was growing up and had a big affect on him throughout his book.
Integration changed the way Gates viewed, whites, blacks, restaurants, hairstyles, church,
school, etc. He went from a conformist to a rebel to an Episcopal. His community changed
with him and the older generation of course did not take to integration as well as most of
the younger generation did. Integration was considered a good thing to most people and
others believed that Blacks had lost something through the whole ordeal. They believed
that they had lost the close knit family ties that segregation indirectly created. Gates sums
up the way the community felt about integration in one of his last sentences in his memoir.
He writes, “All I know is that Nemo’s corn never tasted saltier, his coffee never smelled
fresher, than when these hundreds of Negroes gathered to say goodbye to themselves,
their heritage, and their sole link to each other, wiped out of existence by the newly
enforced anti-Jim Crow laws.”(Gates, 216)
It was hard for blacks to integrate into all white schools after being surrounded by
blacks for most of their lives. Whites weren’t the only ones to critique black attitude and
black style, blacks did it to themselves. Gates writes that when he was a child he
remembered that when blacks were admitted to all white neighborhoods or schools,
Negroes were the first to censure other Negroes(Gates, xiii). His father would say things
like, “Don’t go over there with those white people if all you’re going to do is Jim Crow
yourselves(Gates, xii). Even Gates writes, “I always reserved my scorn....for someone too
dark, someone too loud, and too wrong.”(Gates, xiii). The way Gates writes it, blacks
would scrutinize their own kind. Integration wasn’t as easy as going up to a white person
if you were black and saying, “Hi, since were supposed to be integrating with each other I
guess we’ll be friends.” There was extreme racial tension and some whites would just
absolutely not integrate. In Chapter 17 Gates writes about an episode in his life when his
friends and himself try to integrate a local all white dance club. The owner forced the boys
out using violence and the next Monday the club was shut down by the Human Rights
Commission, because the owner wouldn’t integrate. In this incident the owner of the
nightclub closed his place down rather than integrate with the black community. Gates felt
that it was better to have the club be turned into a family restaurant than stay segregated .
Gates felt like a pioneer, someone who was helping out the cause fighting against
segregation and racism. Racism was a major cause of segregation throughout the book.
The view of Piedmont thorough Gates’ writing reveals that whites and blacks got
along fine as long as colored people didn’t eat at the Rendezvous Bar, or buy property, or
dance with, date, or dilate upon white people(Gates, 27).This quote represented Gates’
sarcastic view of segregation. What he meant by this was that there wasn’t a problem
between blacks and whites until they started to integrate. Racism was the cause of
segregation throughout Piedmont and prevented blacks from doing a lot of the things
whites could. At the cut-rate, a local diner, blacks were only allowed to order their food
and leave. The proprietor of the diner, Carl Dadisman was very nice to colored people, but
he didn’t want colored people sitting in his booths, eating off his plates....or put their thick
greasy lips all over his glasses(Gates, 18). This quote embodies the attitude of the majority
of whites in Piedmont. It basically states that blacks were only allowed to integrate as far
as the whites would let them because the idea of blacks using the same items whites were
using was disgusting. Blacks were also not allowed to go to school with whites and even
after integration racism still controlled the way blacks were treated. Limits on the
inter-mixing of blacks were established by the school board. These limits were, no holding
hands, one colored cheerleader, one colored teacher, put most of the colored on the B
track, and several more. Gates’ brother Rocky was restricted from winning the Golden
Horseshoe award because the hotel where they would have to stay was segregated(Gates,
98). The oppression of the school board of his brother gave